“BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER” LOVING OURSELVES 101
Happy New Year to all of you and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I want 2018 to be epic for all who are training, starting a new business or even just trying to get a little healthier.
Everyday Lifters has allowed me to meet the most incredible people and I found myself not being able to get to all of you for interviews. Your stories and ideas must be shared!! Instead, I have asked for some of you to be Guest Writers to hijack my website and hopefully their stories will inspire others to smash their goals, whatever they may be. Stay tuned as they will be covering topics related to coaching, training and how to navigate a National weightlifting meet. Enough from me... here is Patti. She has a powerful message for all women- so listen up! -Ciao, Viviana
Written By: Patti Lawson, January 2018 Guest Writer
A few months ago I walked into a store that I had never been in before and I didn’t know my way around. As I wandered around, I saw a woman about my age who was quite fit and I said to myself and said, “I would give anything to look like that eventually." Moments later (yes, I need glasses) I realized I was standing in front of a mirrored display!!!
I stared and if I’m going to be honest, I started to cry a little. I realized that I was seeing myself as others would see me for the first time since going through a fairly significant change in my physical appearance (I lost 62 pounds and got in the best shape of my life; so far...).
We hear a lot about body image these days and there is what I would call a trend towards young girls being more inclined to look and feel athletic, as opposed to being skinny and wanting to look like, oh I don’t know, an underfed underwear model??
This was not the case when I was growing up and although in a perfect world we would all take the difficulties of our teen years and forget about them, some things are harder to shake off than others and they become a part of who we are as we grow into women.
I honestly don’t remember a time when I was truly comfortable in my own skin. Without going into all the awkward details, I was made to believe that I was not the right size by girlfriends, dance instructors (yes, I can time step with the best of them), stupid boys and even my own mother who I love dearly and forgive (she’s going to read this so I had to say that!). The sad part is, when I look back at pictures of myself, there were definitely some periods where I wasn’t skinny so to speak, but except for right after high school. I was never truly overweight as a kid, but that realization didn’t come until I was almost 50 years old and that’s just downright sad if you ask me.
All the Diets and More
As I’m writing and trying to focus on the subject of body image, so many other things keep popping into my mind like my obsession with food as a kid, a teen and most of my adult life and my irrational fear of almost everything (you know, like rope climb day in gym class??) but I’ll try to stay on topic and get to the part where I got fat, then lost weight and couldn’t accept the new me or see past the roadmap of stretch marks on my belly and nether region (I love my kids, I swear).
From right after high school all the way as recent as 2 years ago, my weight went up and down like a yoyo. I tried everything from starving myself by eating a head of iceberg lettuce and washed it down with Diet Coke, trying the Weight Watchers Program, the infamous cabbage soup diet, diet pills, aerobics and Tab, the Atkins Diet, the high fiber diet and even the eat all the whole foods you want diet.
During that span of time I had gotten married, had a son and then later my twin daughters. My body grew, shrunk, grew, shrunk and never made me happy when I looked in the mirror. I cried in fitting rooms; haven’t we all?? I threw tantrums when it was time to get dressed up for special occasions and I told myself over and over again that someday I’d look and feel the way I wanted to because somehow I’d find the magic potion that all the women I admired must be drinking. Speaking of drinking....oh wait, that’s a whole other blog for sure!
The Magic Potion... CrossFit
The magic potion ended up actually being Kool-Aid (google CrossFit jokes about drinking the Kool-Aid) as I found myself in a CrossFit gym in the fall of 2013. If I could have been any further out of my comfort zone, I’d have been on Mars but somehow I walked through the door of Intrepid Strength and Conditioning in Warwick NY and so began the rest of my life... (cue the angels and harp music here).
The fear I felt each time I pulled up at this gym was rivaled only by my desire to stick with it and so I did just that. I pushed my fear aside for the first time in my life and I decided to find some strength but it was not easy to say the least. My insecurities kept me feeling uncomfortable and at some point I knew I needed to shed some fat so that I could move forward physically and mentally as well.
And so we come to the big transformation that to most would just be all about ‘oh wow, you lost so much weight, good for you’ but for anyone that has been through a major physical change, it’s not always that simple. Over the course of a year I lost 62 pounds following a macro tracking program and during that time I started to take my fitness more seriously and all kinds of magic happened; but not so much in my head.
Learning to Love Myself
You’d think that pulling on a pair of size two pants or measuring your waist and finding it to be almost 10 inches smaller than it was years ago would just be cause for celebration and a lot of ‘yay me’ but it’s not. I would often find myself in the company of women that I work out with and just feel like the way I always felt; like the biggest girl in the room just like when I was young. I found myself taking pictures of the tag on clothing as I was trying it on as I simply couldn’t comprehend what was happening. And then of course there’s the naked situation....because let’s face it, being fit and strong is the shit, but we all want to look good naked! I hated the mirror for so long and even after drastic changes it was still not my friend but week by week I am learning to see myself through different eyes and I am learning to love myself finally.
I started thinking about my lifelong issue with not feeling good about myself and I thought maybe I could once again step out of my comfort zone and expose myself in an effort to move forward and maybe be able to help other women dealing with their own demons. I asked Viv of Everyday Lifters to come take some pictures of me. I’ve known Viv for a few years and I have admired her photography of weightlifters as she always seemed to concentrate on the personality and the feels of the lifters and that touched me so much.
So on a Friday afternoon I got all kinds of undressed in my sacred gym and although I won’t share them all lol, I will gladly share a few as that was the purpose of the shoot. To see myself, to show other women that we are all flawed to some extent. We have scars, we have stretch marks, we have stories, we have pasts. We have struggles, we have stress. But what we have more than anything is strength, even if it takes half a lifetime to find it, it exists within us all.
My journey has been life altering and it has brought me to a place where I am in a position to help others and there is nothing in this world that brings me more happiness than to somehow have a positive impact on someone’s life.
The tattoo on my back that is something I never expected to have says ‘Fate Loves the Fearless’ and that phrase has become my mantra over the years as setting myself free of fear has set me on a path that I never could have imagined and Fate is indeed on my side.
Be bold, be brave, be you and find your glow. -Patti Lawson
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Next Guest Writers for January: Emily Fanelli and Amber Rodriguez